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‘Prior Protection’ of Designs under Designs Act, 2000



An article’s commercial or aesthetic element is referred to as industrial design. It promotes the product by attracting customers, implying that industrial design is crucial in improving the product’s commercial value and, as a result, boosting its market and customer base. Every industry or corporation has its own distinct and noticeable design. Competitors or other rival groups may try to use the designs for their own gain; hence it is critical to protect them. The term “design” is defined under Section 2(d) of the Designs Act of 2000.“Design” refers to the shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, or composition of lines or colors applied to any article, whether two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or both, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical, or chemical, separate or combined, that appeal to and are judged solely by the eye in the finished article. Consumers and the general public benefit from an effective protection system because it promotes fair competition and honest business practices.

Essentials for a design to be valid and Admissible

As governed by section 4 of the Designs Act, 2000.

  1. Novelty– A design’s novelty or newness is a necessary criterion for acceptance. According to the Designs Act, a design can only be registered if it is new and original, and has never been published before. In the case of Pilot Pen Co v. Gujarat Industries Private Ltd, the court held that a registration could not be considered valid unless the design is fresh or unique and not a pre-existing common kind.

However, the legislation allows for the registration of a mixture of previously known designs if the combination creates a new aesthetic appeal. The innovation and uniqueness of a design is assessed using evidence from industry professionals.

  • No Prior Publication- The design should not have been previously published. If a design is made available to the public or shown or disclosed to a person who is not obligated to keep it secret, it is considered to be published.

Case: Wimco Ltd, Bombay V Meena Match Industries, Sivakasi[1], The court decided that publication is the polar opposite of secrecy. If a design is no longer a secret, it is considered published. If the design has been exposed to the public or if the public has ownership of the design, there has been a publication. And any design that has been previously published is ineligible for registration. The publication can take two forms, publication in a previous document and by a previous user. According to the law, the private or secret use of a design, as well as its experimental use, does not constitute publication.

  • The Design Must Be Used on a Specific Article- If a design is just used in an article, it is permissible. It could be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. The design should be based on the shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation that is applied to or applicable to the product. As a result, the industrial plan layouts and installations are not considered designs under the Act.
  • Should be visible on the article finished- A design should appeal primarily to the consumer’s eyes. This means that a design must be visible on a finished product in order to qualify. According to the law, the internal arrangements of a closed article, for example, cannot be deemed design.

Changes made in the 2000 Act

When compared to the 1911 statute, the following are the most notable modifications or amendments in the 2000 act:

  • It broadens the definitions of “article” and “design” and adds a new meaning for “original.”
  • The statute broadened the definition of Prior Publication.”
  • The law included provisions for the Controller’s powers to be delegated to other officers.
  • It included mechanisms for identifying designs that are not registerable.
  • In place of the Indian classification system, the act established an internationally recognized categorization system.
  • Provisions for keeping a computerized design register have been included.
  • The Act included provisions for the restoration of expired Designs.
  • It included mechanisms for appealing a Controller’s order to the High Court rather than the Central Government.
  • The new act makes it essential to register any document that transfers a registered design’s right of use.
  • The statute added new reasons to cancellation proceedings and created options for cancellation actions to be initiated before the controller rather than the High Court.
  • The new act increased the amount of penalty that can be levied for infringing on a registered design.
  • Apart from the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, the legislation has provisions that allow other countries and intergovernmental organizations to be given priority.
  • The new statute included measures for circumventing some stringent restrictions in contractual licenses for the control of anti-competitive practices.
  • The act also has particular provisions aimed at ensuring India’s security.

As a result, it is apparent that the new statute is superior and more effective at protecting and encouraging industrial designs in India.

Through a well-defined and regulated legislative, promotional, and institutional framework, the act intends to promote Indian design.This legislation also established an action plan for implementing the policy, which included the creation of a platform for creative design innovation, the dissemination of Indian designs and innovations on the international stage, and the global positioning and marketing of Indian designs. The India Design Council was established by the Central Government in 2009 under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The council’s goal is to serve as a national strategic body for interdisciplinary design and to get active in design promotion, with the ultimate goal of making Indian industry design enabled.


The nation’s requirement for Industrial Design protection has resulted in a series of so-called Industrial Design legislations, dating from 1872 (Patents and Designs Act) through the most current Designs Act of 2000. The Designs Act of 2000 is a well-known piece of IP legislation with a long and illustrious history. When it comes to efficiency, this act, together with other related standards, effectively regulates industrial design issues.

[1][1]AIR 1983 Del 537:1983 Rajdhani LR 631

Contributed by:– Nidhi Jha, Legal intern at LLL

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